“We are aware and dealing with an ongoing incident on board a vessel which is situated south of the Isle of Wight,” a spokesperson for the Hampshire Constabulary told Isle of Wight Radio. No further details were provided.
The coastguard has been assisting the police with the ongoing situation, and search-and-rescue helicopters from Lee-on-Solent and Lydd have been deployed to the area.
Identified in the British media as a Liberian-registered crude oil tanker, the Nave Andromeda left the Nigerian port of Lagos earlier this month and was expected to dock in Southampton on Sunday morning. It failed to arrive on time, and a spokeswoman for Associated British Ports, which runs the port at Southampton, told the Guardian her company had not managed to make any contact with the vessel.
Instead, the ship took an erratic, zigzagging course through the Solent – a strait of the English Channel that separates the island from the mainland – as it sailed past the Isle of Wight, the Marine Traffic monitoring website’s data indicates.
A video purportedly showing the tanker moored somewhere off the island’s coast was published by Isle of Wight Radio, which was the first to break the story. The outlet claimed some seven Nigerian stowaways on board the ship had sought to take control of the vessel, forcing it to send a distress signal.